What Drives Engagement in The Work Place?

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

Nov 28

We tend to engage in the anticipation of success more than anything else in our workplaces.

It’s safe to say that I’m engaged in my work.  I put in discretionary effort, I enjoy it and in many ways it doesn’t feel like work. I’m working now on a plane, not watching TV and although I would have rather been with my family, I made a choice to fly last weekend on a red-eye to run a workshop at a conference on a Sunday.

Staff Engagement

For reasons like these, staff engagement is one of the most revered prizes for organisations. The link between engaged people and business performance is clear. Billions is spent measuring and trying to improve it. It’s also important to us as this is one of the key success measures for leadership development. But here’s where this insight gets interesting. The CEO of one of the worlds biggest measurement platforms (Perceptyx) for this metric admitted that despite all the effort, engagement wasn’t getting any better. No change. It seems there is a chicken and egg problem;

– Success leads to engagement
– Engagement leads to performance
– Performance leads to success

Cycle of Engagement

So ahh – what comes first?  After a little digging (actually a lot) he shared what ‘triggers’ the cycle.  Anticipation of success. We engage in the anticipation of success.  Tricky and also kind of doh.  It’s even trickier as the definition of success is personal.  It may be related to; achievement, affiliation, autonomy, etc.  I’ve summarised the essence of the insight in a diagram below. 

So my question is – how can we use this insight to improve how we develop leaders?  How can we help improve millions of peoples working lives through improved engagement?

I’d love to hear your thoughts


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